SC reserves verdict on constitutional validity of section 377 of IPC
• The Supreme Court on July 17, 2018 reserved its verdict on a clutch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of section 377 of Indian Penal Code which criminalises consensual gay sex.
• A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra concluded hearing the arguments on the contentious issue after detailed hearing of four days, which had commenced on July 10.
• The bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, asked the parties to file written submissions in support of their claims by July 20.
• The verdict is likely to be pronounced before October 2, 2018 as Justice Misra would be retiring as CJI on that day.
Centre opposes PIL barring candidates from contesting election from more than one constituency
• The Union Government has opposed in the Supreme Court a PIL for barring candidates from contesting from more than one constituency in a general election.
• In an affidavit, filed by Deputy Secretary with the Ministry of Law and Justice, KK Saxena, the government stated that the plea failed to establish that fundamental rights of citizens were being infringed upon in any way.
• The affidavit, which would be considered by a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said a person has been allowed under the Representative of Peoples Act to contest election from two constituencies simultaneously and the law has to be amended for disallowing the same.
• The PIL had sought directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps to discourage independent candidates from contesting Parliamentary and state Assembly elections as suggested by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution.
BBC World Service launches its first Gujarati language television news bulletin
• The BBC World Service has launched its first Gujarati language television news bulletin.
• ‘BBC Samachar’ will be broadcast live five days a week from Delhi and will air on the broadcaster’s partner station GSTV at 8 pm.
• The launch is part of a wider BBC World Service expansion, which has seen 12 new language services launched around the world over the last 12 months.
• Four new language services have been launched online in India – Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu.
EU, Canada, Norway warn Sri Lanka over capital punishment
• European Union (EU) member states along with government of Canada and Norway have warned Sri Lanka against ending its moratorium on capital punishment and said the island risked losing trade concessions if it went ahead.
• The diplomatic missions based in Colombo wrote a letter to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on July 16 stating that they fully oppose the recent statement by him that he will reinstate the death penalty.
• They called upon the President to maintain the moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty and to uphold Sri Lanka’s tradition of opposition to capital punishment.
• Earlier, Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission wrote to President Sirisena, urging him to reconsider imposing the death penalty.
Gujarat government launches measles-rubella vaccination drive
• The Gujarat government on July 16, 2018 launched a vaccination campaign to protect children from measles and rubella for which it has received a Rs 300 crore grant from the Centre.
• The campaign, which will last for five weeks, will seek to vaccinate 1.6 crore children between the age of nine months to 15 years across the state against measles and rubella.
• The state has got a 100 per cent grant of Rs 300 crore for the campaign which its plans to implement on a mission mode.
• Over 4 lakh children would be vaccinated across 1,827 schools as well as anganwadis and hospitals across Vadodara district.
NMDFC organises workshop on financial management in New Delhi
• The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation, NMDFC, organised a workshop on financial management in New Delhi on July 17, 2018.
• The Workshop is for the heads of state channelizing agencies of NMDFC. Addressing the workshop, Minority affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that by giving loan to minorities at affordable interest rate, NMDFC is doing remarkable job helping them get socially and economically empowered.
• He said, with over 6 lakh 37 thousand beneficiaries of NMDFC’s various programmes, the corporation is anticipating increasing the number of minority beneficiaries.
Peru declares 60-day state of emergency on its border with Colombia
• Peru has declared a 60-day state of emergency on its border with Colombia in order to guarantee security in a region rife with drug trafficking.
• President Martin Vizcarra said that the decision was taken as there are security problems created by Colombian citizens crossing the border and there was a need to re-establish the state’s presence.
• The police and armed forces used five helicopters and three planes in joint operations with their Colombian counterparts in the first patrol in the area.
• The region in which the state of emergency has been declared is the Amazon basin province of Putumayo, separated from Colombia by the river of the same name, a tributary of the Amazon.
ISRO scientists successfully test Vikas Engine
• ISRO said on July 15, 2018 that it has successfully conducted a ground test of its high thrust version of the Vikas Engine that would improve the payload capability of the space agency’s launch vehicles.
• The Vikas Engine is the workhorse liquid rocket engine used to power the second stage of the ISRO’s trusted Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
• It is also used in the second stage and also at the four strap on stages of Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and in the twin engine core liquid stage (L110) of GSLV Mk-III.
• During the test, the propulsion parameters were found to be “satisfactory” and “closely” matched the predictions.
• The ground test has validated the performance adequacy of the Vikas Engine for its use in the upcoming second developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III.
• ISRO is planning to launch GSLV-MkIII-D2 during the second half of 2018 carrying GSAT-29.
NGT plans to hear cases using video-conferencing
• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is planning to conduct hearings through video-conferencing to decide the environmental cases pending in its regional benches.
• The NGT’s functioning has been hit by vacancies. The apex environment watchdog is functioning with less than one-third of its sanctioned strength of 20 officials besides the chairperson.
• Recently many cases from regional benches in Pune, Bhopal, Chennai and Kolkata have been transferred to the principal bench in Delhi due to non-availability of judicial and expert members.
• Due to this, petitioners had to travel to Delhi to attend hearings which turned out to be a financial and physical burden on them. A total of 3,236 cases were pending with the tribunal till April.
• While 1,484 cases were pending before the principal bench in Delhi, the pendency of cases stood at 579 at the regional bench in Chennai, 580 in Pune, 325 in Bhopal and 268 in Kolkata.
Aruna Sairam to be conferred ‘Sangita Kalanidhi’ award
• Well-known carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam has been selected for this year’s ‘Sangita Kalanidhi’ award of the Music Academy here.
• At its meeting held on July 15, 2018, the Academy’s executive committee unanimously selected Sairam for the award and also announced the winners of various other awards.
• Sairam, one of the most popular carnatic vocalists, has been chosen for the coveted Sangita Kalanidhi award.
• Over an illustrious career spanning decades, she can be credited with taking the art to a very wide audience both in India and abroad.
• Sairam would preside over the 92nd annual conference of the academy to be held from December 15, 2018 to January 1, 2019.
Transgenders turn volunteers for government survey in Kerala
• A group of transgenders played the role of volunteers of a government survey programme in Kerala, which is widely seen as a positive move towards the blend of the marginalised group in the mainstream society.
• Four students from the community were among the total 14,318 volunteers who participated in the one-day survey carried out as part of ‘Aksharashree,’ a literacy and equivalency project of the Kerala State Literacy Mission.
• All the four were students of the special continuing education programme for transgenders, launched by the Mission recently.
• Without any inhibition, they mingled with other volunteers and interacted well with the households.